Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Alternative history in the making

Yesterday kicked off the supposed reign of the Great Captain Alexander of Macedon. After the disappointment against the Greeks, Philip II died and was succeeded by his fiery son Alexander, who has already been wounded severely in battle once. He decided to vent his spleen on the pesky hillmen of Illyria. I won't do a deployment map for this one - it was pretty straightforward. A massive attack on the open right by the cream of the cavalry, with phalanxes attacking the steep hills in the centre and lots of light troops masking the left. Alexander went in frontally against inferior cavalry and got hammered - all of the Companions and Thessalians went down with him. Occasionally a game happens where terrible dice by one side are matched by brilliant dice on the other, and this was one such night. Alexander's glory boys couldn't hurt a horse fly while the Illyrians went through their opponents like a hot knife through butter. That's now twice that Alexander has been badly wounded.

We had a bit of a discussion about how best to portray the Great Commander on the tabletop. In Empire, a Great Captain adds a massive +2 to a D6 roll, but we felt that simply giving his forces an extra one-third points was too much - they would never lose in a figure game with such disparity. Plus, it wouldn't be much fun to play. So Gordon came up with an idea borrowed from Napoleonics: the Great Captain adds a morale level to all troops within an 8" radius. And if he is removed from play, all units within 8" drop to a level below their usual and have to test morale. This gave Alexander three legendary cavalry units with which to carve up the opposition - except they couldn't hit a thing. We can't remove him from play because that would upset the balance of the board game, so we ruled that he loses one of his strategic actions while recovering, and another empire gets to go.

So, next week it's the Carthaginian landing against Syracuse. Let's see if one of the so-called Great Powers can actually conquer something!

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